Among the many sad things encountered on The American’s obituary page is the nearly complete absence of any mention of COVID-19. And yet, according to the Maine CDC, there have been at least 31 deaths in Hancock County attributable to the virus.
I get it. No one who writes what may be the only public record of a parent’s life wants their deaths to possibly be perceived in any way as the result of shortcomings or weaknesses. None of us enjoy admitting that we’ve been weak or lax or wrong — which is to say, human. Particularly for the most vulnerable, it has been simply impossible to get out of the virus’s path.
The supreme denier of anything weak or wrong in himself, Donald Trump, might have succumbed to COVID-19 were it not for his access to an army of physicians and the best of all treatments. In many ways, the ex-president resembled the typical older Hancock County resident, minus the Orange 1 dye. His dying (the fatal variety) would have meant incontrovertible evidence that the virus was indeed worse than the flu. Even QAnon would have found it impossible to pin his death on Jewish space lasers.
Trump’s survival and subsequent cavalier attitude toward mask-wearing has most certainly caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans, all in service to his laughable goal of herd immunity. Now it is the job of an adult president to clean up this child’s mess.
We are fortunate in Maine to have a conscientious governor and a pragmatic CDC director; they and our selfless health-care workers have succeeded in getting (most of) us Mainers through this. Yet work remains and we should not squander this moment of reduced infections but squarely face the virus before it confronts us and those we love. This is our responsibility as citizens.
Mentioning COVID-19 in an obituary will probably change very little — except that it might act to remind others that we cannot afford to let our guard down. For this small bonus, the least we can do is to learn to say its name: COVID-19.